NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 5: The Bynum paradox

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bynumpractice.jpgWith Andrew Bynum’s knee freshly drained and with his MRI showing no further damage, Phil Jackson expressed a desire for Bynum to play in Game 5. Bynum’s listed as questionable as even though the damage hasn’t increased, the amount of pain Bynum is in has. It’s one of those weird things with the human body. When the tear was getting increasingly worse, Bynum said he had little to no pain. But recently it’s been bothering him enough for him to be unable to play long minutes in the second half, even though there’s no increase in damage.

Frankly, it’s been amazing Bynum’s managed to play at all on it, let alone as well as he has. For a player whose work ethic and toughness has been questioned by everyone up to and including Tex Winter, it’s been a remarkable advance in his maturity. The question is, has Bynum reached the tipping point?

The Lakers are playing for an NBA championship. The highest prize they can obtain. This is the summit. There’s no guarantee that with Kobe getting older along with the rest of the Lakers’ core that they’ll be back here. It’s likely, of course, but not guaranteed, not like it was two years ago when Pau Gasol was first traded there. So there’s a certain amount of sense in the idea that Bynum should leave it all on the floor to collect as many rings as possible.

Beyond that, however, is the fact that Bynum is 22 years old. He’s got a whole career left in him. And playing on that knee is going to do further and further damage to him. With the advances in medical science, it’s probable that he’ll be able to bounce back completely and go back to having a stellar career. But this is his third knee injury in his short NBA lifespan. There’s just as good of a chance that the continued damage he’s doing by playing on it could shave years off his career, which could cost him significant money down the road. He’s got two to three contracts left in him to play, and essentially, he’s risking that to win his second ring.

It’s what we always ask of players, to value victory over the money, but is it really the right thing to do?

Maybe the tear is such that further damage to it and the resulting surgery won’t greatly impact his later career. Maybe Jackson is aware of it and trying to find a happy medium by playing him until it becomes too much and then yanking back on it as he did in Game 4. It’s obvious that the Lakers truly do need Bynum to beat the Celtics. It’s just such a dangerous game to be playing with the life of a kid that has so much left in him to give this game.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.